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Summer Immersion Experience: Advocacy

This post is by Samantha Barley, Marietta College

Advocate: to speak or to write in favor of. For eleven Alpha Xi Delta Sisters, the word advocate is something they held dear to their hearts when visiting Capitol Hill. 

During the first ever Alpha Xi Delta Summer Immersion Experience, Sisters from all over the United States immersed themselves in the four different pillars of Autism Speaks. When visiting Capitol Hill the pillar we focused on was advocacy. The Sisters of Alpha Xi Delta advocated for the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2011. In short, this bill would allow parents to set up a tax-free 529 account for their child or children with disabilities. This in turn would provide a support system for this loved one later down the road. 

At Capitol Hill, some Sisters were able to speak with their district’s health legislative aide and explain why this bill was important. Sisters poured their hearts out with a wide range of stories explaining why this bill hit home. Some Sisters had personal connections with those affected by autism spectrum disorders, while others’ future careers would be centered on those diagnosed with a disability. Some Sisters’ reasons were as simple as Autism Speaks was Alpha Xi Delta’s philanthropic partner, and this bill is yet another way to support this outstanding organization.

Some congressmen already co-sponsor the bill, but for those that haven’t, Sisters asked them to show their support by co-sponsoring the bill. Other Sisters were lucky enough to speak with their actual congressman and thank them for all that they do for those children on the autism spectrum and any other child diagnosed with a disability. After leaving Capitol Hill, all the Alpha Xi Deltas felt accomplished, hoping they left an impression on those that they spoke with. All in all it was a wonderful experience.

April Kirkland, Samantha Barley and Lisa Bresson


Alpha Xi Delta proudly hosted the Fraternity's first Summer Immersion Experience in Washington, D.C., from Sunday, July 29 through Saturday, August 4, 2012. Fourteen collegiate members had the opportunity to spend six days fully immersed in the four pillars of Autism Speaks' mission - research, advocacy, family services and awareness. 
participants toured an autism research facility, met with legislators on Capitol Hill regarding autism legislation, volunteered at fundraisers and hosted an autism awareness night at a Washington Nationals Major League Baseball game.

Visit here for more info about the program.



The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.